- Keep Floors Safe by Measuring Slip Resistance
- Products To Measure Slip Resistance, Traction
Understanding Floor Coefficient Of Friction Standards
For a floor cleaning product to become NFSI certified, the manufacturer must voluntarily submit their product for scientific testing, which is performed in a real-world location using an NFSI-approved tribometer.
Products are tested per the manufacturer’s instructions and in a location/application specified by the manufacturer. For example, if the product is specified for use on polished vinyl composite tile (VCT), then it will be tested on polished VCT.
Testing is done in two phases. In phase one, testing, or benchmarking, is performed on the actual floor in which the product will be used. The floors “as is” COF is first measured using an NFSI-approved tribometer. This establishes the “before” condition.
For phase two, the floor cleaning product is applied per the manufacturer’s instructions for a minimum of 30 days, after which the subject floor is re-tested with the same tribometer. If the “after” readings demonstrate that the floors slip resistance (COF) increased by a minimum of 20 percent, then the cleaning product or equipment is certified by the NFSI as High-Traction.
People often ask, “why does the NFSI require a 20 percent increase?” Research has shown that frequent cleaning using only clean water can increase the floors slip resistance by as much as 10 percent. Therefore, the 20 percent threshold was established to ensure that chemical cleaners are outperforming clean water.
Alternatively, if a floor cleaning chemical manufacturer chooses not to have their product certified by the NFSI, they can test their products in their lab via the NFSI B101.2-2020 “Test Method for Determining the Impact on Wet Coefficients of Friction of Various Chemical or Physical Walkway Surface Cleaners and Treatments on Common Hard-Surface Flooring Materials.” The standard provides a detailed test method which manufacturers can use to measure the effect their product has on slip resistance. Section 7: Data Interpretation of the B101.2 standard states that:
1. A floor cleaner or treatment shall be defined as Traction Enhancing if the increase in wet dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) was equal to or greater than 20 percent.
2. A floor cleaner or treatment shall be defined as Traction Enhancing if the increase in wet static coefficient of friction (SCOF) was equal to or greater than 20 percent.
3. A floor cleaner or treatment shall be defined as Traction Neutral if the increase in wet DCOF was equal to or greater than zero, but less than 20 percent.
4. A floor cleaner or treatment shall be defined as Traction Neutral if the increase in wet SCOF was equal to or greater than zero, but less than 20 percent.
5. A floor cleaner or treatment shall be defined as Traction Reducing if the change in wet DCOF was less than zero.
6. A floor cleaner or treatment shall be defined as Traction Reducing if the change in wet SCOF was less than zero.
7. If a floor cleaner or treatment has a wet SCOF and/or wet DCOF in two different definitions, the product will receive the lowest traction definition met.
Facility cleaning managers who are questioning whether they should test the SCOF or the DCOF are encouraged to test both, if possible. SCOF and DCOF are different sides of the same coin and are equally valuable.
The NFSI B101.2-2020 standard is relatively new and chemical floor cleaning product manufacturers are just now beginning to test their products, but the momentum is promising for the industry. Custodial departments that can present evidence that cleaning products used within the facility have been tested can be a game changer if legal action is taken as a result of a slip and fall.
Slip And Fall Litigation Rising
A recent report from Liberty Mutual Insurance indicates that litigation from slip-and-fall accidents is on the rise. The report states: “In today’s litigious climate, the rise of the “nuclear” legal verdict — one that surpasses $10 million — is an all-too-real trend. In 2019, the largest jury verdict amounted to more than $8 billion in damages. What’s behind the escalation in jumbo jury awards and related legal costs? The liability landscape is changing in many ways, but three issues in particular are having a substantial impact.”
The first, and most important, is corporate mistrust.
The report went on to say that: “According to one comprehensive analysis of jury verdicts, the highest maximum verdicts are returned in business and product liability actions. Why? Corporate mistrust is likely playing a role, leading to juries feeling more sympathy for injured plaintiffs — and wanting to punish offending companies. Nearly a third of Americans recently polled by Gallup in annually conducted research, for instance, say they have very little or no confidence in big business. This finding continues a downward trend of the public perception of corporations since Gallup began surveying these attitudes, four decades ago.”
The second driver is related to the growth in litigation financing, and the third is social pessimism and jury sentiment favoring plaintiffs. Needless to say, it is wiser and significantly less expensive for facilities to prevent slips and falls then to face the increasing cost of insurance and risk of litigation.
Russell Kendzior is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of the National Floor Safety Institute. He is recognized worldwide as one of the leading safety experts specializing in slip, trip-and-fall prevention. As President of Traction Experts, Inc., Kendzior has consulted with numerous fortune 500 corporations and has represented both Plaintiffs and Defendants as an expert witness on more than 1,000 slip, trip-and-fall related lawsuits.
Products To Measure Slip Resistance, Traction